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Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variation in living organisms, viewed within a given habitat, ecosystem or in the world as a whole. The concept is usually applied to the species diversity, although the notion of genetic biodiversity is applied to the variation in genes within an individual species. While most people think of rainforests as loci of great biodiversity, biomes such as oceans and grasslands are the likely repositories for even greater variation. Retention of diverse biota is important, since intact ecosystems are thought to be essential for provision of ecosystem services to humans, including maintenance of a diverse foodbank, pollination, clean water, flood control, pest control, waste decomposition, biomass energy resources and climate stability. Biodiversity is presently critical since we live in the era of the Mass Holocene Extinction, a period of species loss caused by man, and unrivaled in rate of species loss. Although the number of total species numbers in the tens of millions, most have not yet even been described. The extinction of a species is almost always related to destruction of habitat or man-made pollution.

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Western Java montane rain forests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 18:51:02 The Western Java Montane Rain Forests are found on one of the most actively volcanic islands in the world. Several mammals and nine bird species are found nowhere else on Earth. Once the home of the extinct Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sundaicus), only a fifth of the original habitat remains in this ecoregion, and these forests are scattered in fragments throughout the mountains. This ecoregion represents the montane forests of west Java. Based on the Köppen climate zone system, this ecoregion falls in the tropical wet climate zone. Java probably did not exist before the Miocene (24 m.y.). Truly born of fire, the island of Java is the result of the subduction and remelting of the Australian-Indian Ocean tectonic plate beneath the Eurasian tectonic plate at the Java trench. The melted crust has risen as volcanoes and, along with subsequent sedimentation, created Java.... More »
Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 18:41:27 Many years ago, the Upper Gangetic Plains Moist Deciduous Forests harbored impressive populations of tiger (Panthera tigris), greater-one horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), gaur (Bos gaurus), and swamp deer (Cervus duvaucelli), to name but a few of the large vertebrates that used to roam here. Large hornbills made daily migrations from their feeding areas to mature groves, where they nested in cavities of tall trees and roosted for the night. Today, this natural biodiversity has been replaced by one of the densest human populations on Earth, and the fertile alluvial plains have been cleared and intensely cultivated. There is so little natural forest left, it is difficult even to assign a particular vegetation type to it with any certainty. The small patches of forests that are left suggest that much of the upper Gangetic Plains may have... More »
Tenasserim-South Thailand semi-evergreen rainforests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 18:33:35 The Tenasserim-South Thailand semi-evergreen rainforests cover the transition zone from continental dry evergreen forests common in the north to semi-evergreen rainforests to the south. As a consequence, this ecoregion contains some of the highest diversity of both bird and mammal species found in the Indo-Pacific region. The relatively intact hill and montane forests form some of the best remaining habitat essential to the survival of Asian elephants and tigers in the Indo-Pacific region. However, the lowland forests are heavily degraded, and many lowland specialists such as the endemic Gurney's pitta survive in a few isolated reserves. This ecoregion encompasses the mountainous, semi-evergreen rain forests of the southern portion of the Tenasserim Range, which separates Thailand and Myanmar, and the numerous small ranges of peninsular Thailand. This ecoregion also... More »
Sumatran peat swamp forests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 18:22:46 The Sumatran peat swamp forests are a distinctive forest type, and their biodiversity is characteristic of the associated habitat. The peat swamp forests in Indonesia are less threatened than the freshwater swamp forests. This is partly because of their low nutrient levels, which limit the productivity of their vegetation, including agricultural crops. However, despite their poor productivity in the past five years, significant areas of peat swamp forests have been burned in Indonesia, and less than one-half of these forests remain. This ecoregion represents the peat swamp forests along the eastern coast of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, as well as the Riau archipelago. Based on the Köppen climate zone system, this ecoregion falls in the tropical wet climate zone. The peat swamp forests of Sumatra have similar characteristics to those in Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia.... More »
Sumatran montane rain forests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 18:02:33 The Sumatra Montane Rain Forests are home to a wide variety of species and are one of the most outstanding examples of montane rain forests west of Wallace's Line. The Sumatran montane rain forests are home to both Amorphophallus titanum, which grows on a stalk that measures more than 2 meters (m) tall, and the parasitic Rafflesia arnoldii, which produces the largest flower in the world (up to 1 m wide). Sumatra's montane forests are also home to some of the most endangered species in the Indo-Pacific region. The Sumatran rhinoceros, tiger, and Sumatran rabbit all inhabit these forests. This ecoregion represents the montane forests (>1,000 m) along the Barisan Mountain Range of Sumatra. The geologic history of Sumatra provides insights into the origins and amount of Sumatra's biodiversity. About 150 million years ago Borneo, Sumatra, and western Sulawesi split off... More »